I really wish we could put every 13 -14 year old in our country through a ‘flour baby’ experience and then follow it up with discussions around sex, preventing pregnancy, gender roles, sexual coercion and so on. (There is a teen book called ‘Flour babies’ by Anne Fine)
I watched a young teen go through this experience. She arrived very excited one day to ask for baby clothes and blankets because they would be each given a ‘baby’ to look after for two weeks. They had to change nappies, clothes and bath the baby. They had to stop and ‘feed’ the baby at regular intervals and also wake twice at night to ‘feed’ the baby. They also had to spend time playing with the ‘baby’. Parents were asked to ensure that their children did these things. She couldn’t wait to get her ‘baby’.
Well the excitement lasted for about 3 days... Then the boredom and irritation set in. I heard that many parents were gleefully insisting on the care of the baby – probably a bit of ‘you see what you put me through?’
By the end of the two weeks all the young teens were heartily sick of looking after their ‘babies’. My young friend says she doesn’t know if she will ever have a baby because they are so much work...and she is certain that she will be careful not to get pregnant.
Well, she is writing matric now and will hopefully go off to university next year. And I do so hope this resolve will continue.
When she is a settled, economically stable, real adult may she find someone to love her and be with her always – and to be a good father if they decide then to become parents. That is what I wish for each of our young ones. Because children should not have children in the best of worlds – which is what I want for all of us...